I’m very pleased to announce that I’ll be shooting a new comedic narrative short film, Tape Recorder, starring Basil Harris and Alycia Delmore in a couple weeks in the Seattle area. This short will be quite different from any I’ve done before, but my hope is, if you like Full Disclosure or any of my other films, you’ll really enjoy Tape Recorder.
Several years ago when I made Full Disclosure, I felt like the guy who played the waiter, Basil Harris, was crazy funny even without any lines or much screen time in the film. I wanted to write something for him. Around the same time, I was invited by Jonathan Garson to pitch a short film I could make for the new live action short films division that Disney had started up. The short film division went through a lot of names, but that week was called Wonderfilm Studios. They operated out of a really cool railroad-caboose-looking trailer on the Buena Vista lot and invited me to be one of their first shorts after the success of Full Disclosure and Trailer: The Movie!. That was probably the month that Full Disclosure was the #1-selling Short Film on the shiny new iTunes Music Store, and people in the industry were momentarily aware that audiences would shell out $1.99 to watch short films.
Well…Disney came to their senses and pulled the plug on their live action shorts long before they ever actually made any. My Basil Harris short film vehicle script went in a binder. (I’m supposed to say a drawer, but hey, I use binders!) Even though I loved the script, it was just never a good time to jump in and make a new short.
Flash forward a couple of years to, December 2012, when I heard about a short film contest from my pals at Trigger Street Productions (Kevin Spacey and Dana Brunetti’s company) called the Jameson First Shot Filmmaking Competition—the prize was that Trigger Street would produce the winning script and you get to direct Willem Dafoe in the leading role. Trailer! had been a finalist in Trigger Street’s Budweiser New Filmmaker Award competition several years ago and they showed me a good time at the Tribeca Film Festival and got my mug in Vanity Fair, so it sounded like a good deal to me. But with just a couple days till the deadline and no better short film concept at the moment, I did a Hail Mary and sent in my script for Tape Recorder. They received a thousand-ish script submissions from the US, Russia, and South Africa, then picked 20 finalists—my script was among them. Each of the finalists made a short scene from one of the three scripts they provided, yadda yadda. But in the end, I was still a bridesmaid, got the steak knives, pick your metaphor. I wouldn’t be making the film with them.
But to be honest, I was kind of glad. Because I knew that the script was a Basil Harris vehicle all along. And as much as I like Willem Dafoe, and as much as I would have LOVED to have won the contest and gotten all that publicity for myself…for the film, Basil was going to be best. (Although in all that time, I had never even mentioned the script to him…)
So after several years of imagining him in this role but never actually mentioning it to him, I sent him the script. And not only did Basil agree to play the part, but I also found an actress who I’m just as seriously thrilled to be working with in the other lead role, Alycia Delmore. Timing is everything.
TAPE RECORDER is being produced by my friend Brad Wilke and my incredible spouse Ahn Lee Horn. Jonathan Houser is our DP and we have some other great peeps on board as well. Cameras roll in early May.
P.S. Here’s my Jameson First Shot submission scene. Giant thanks to Hope Rubinkowski, Jesse Lee Keeter, and Eric Goetz for helping me pull this together in a day!